With all that we juggle in our day-to-day lives, sometimes house-cleaning falls to the back burner. Dishes start to pile up in the sink, kids' toys and dirty clothes are left on the floor. But cleaning the house doesn't have to be this big, insurmountable chore. Before you put off cleaning for another month or so, here are some ways to conquer your messy living space and make housework a comfortable, painless, and even enjoyable part of your daily routine.
1. Start with the Small Stuff
There's no need to clean everything at once. Rather, if you begin and end each day with a little picking up here and there, you'll never get buried in housework again. Maintaining a clean home begins with creating good habits, such as making your bed every morning and cleaning the dishes while you cook. As a rule, never allow yourself to fall asleep with dirty dishes or a disheveled living space. That way, you can wake up with a clean slate for fixing breakfast.
Integrate tidying up into your schedule. Before you leave for work, take one or two minutes to make sure there's no mess, and you can look forward to returning to a stress-free house.
2. Make it Enjoyable
The great thing about house cleaning is that it's a hidden source of "me" time. Put on some headphones, or get a portable speaker, and listen to music, your favorite podcast, or a book on tape. If you hate vacuuming, try listening to an upbeat playlist of energizing tunes, and dance as you clean. If you'd rather catch up on your favorite shows, prop up your phone or tablet on the counter for a little binge-watching.
3. Simplify & Streamline
If you're someone who likes making lists and schedules, get a blank sheet of paper and create four columns: Daily, Weekly, Monthly and Yearly. In the Daily column, list everyday chores, such as making the bed, tidying up the house, and doing the dishes. More occasional chores like vacuuming and dusting can go in either the Weekly or Monthly column, depending on your lifestyle and preference. The Yearly column can be reserved for big projects: cleaning the oven, shampooing the carpet, wiping down the fan blades—you get the gist.
Seeing everything on one page is great for reducing anxiety, and makes everything seem far more manageable.
4. Stock your cleaning caddy
It would make sense to store all your cleaning supplies in one cleaning caddy. But some of the stuff in there rarely gets used. Try filling your caddy with only the products you use on a weekly basis: spray bottles of all-purpose cleaner and window cleaner, paper towels, a rag, dusting cloth, scrub brush, heavy-duty sponge and an old toothbrush for those pesky hard-to-reach places.
Keep your newly organized caddy somewhere convenient, like your bathroom, so it's easily accessible. Products that are specific to different areas of the house should go where they're more convenient. For instance, specialty kitchen cleaning products (stainless steel and cooktop cleaners) belong in the kitchen. Keep large bottles of bleach, vinegar and floor cleaner in the garage.
Important reminder: Keep any cleaning products out of the reach of young children.
When it comes to accumulating mess, the devil is in the details: toothpaste, soap scum, and shaved hair add up to create a nightmare on your bathroom sink. But it doesn't have to stay that way. Keep a container of cleaning wipes or a roll of paper towels underneath the sink so you can wipe the sink countertop whenever you brush your teeth.
For a clean shower, fill a hollow dish scrubber with a mixture of half dish soap and half vinegar. Keep the concoction in your shower, and each time you go in for a refreshing cleanse, you can give the tiles a little scrub as well.
6. Aim for completion, not perfection
House-cleaning is not a test or competition. Chances are, no one is planning to barge in and inspect your cleaning job, so don’t sweat the small stuff. Remember, your goal is to make cleaning into a habit that fits in naturally with your busy lifestyle. If you're worried and overwhelmed about not doing a good job, you'll only procrastinate more.
On a related note, don't bite off more than you can chew. Know your limits, respect your need for down-time, and acknowledge yourself for any progress you make. But if mopping the entire house in one afternoon feels daunting, maybe it's better to settle for just the kitchen floor and embark on the other rooms later. It's your house, and you're the boss. Play it by ear. If you're feeling it, you can always move on to another room.